JERUSALEM (JTA) – U.S. President Donald Trump called the State of Israel “a soaring monument to the solemn pledge we repeat and affirm: ‘Never again’” during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
Trump and his wife, Melania, laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance on Tuesday afternoon.
The president, wearing a black kippah, also was accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who are both Jewish. Trump also lit a candle at the eternal flame in the hall.
Israel, Trump said, is “testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.”
“The Jewish people persevered. They have thrived. They have become so successful in so many places, and they have enlightened the world,” he said.
Trump said it is every person’s duty “to remember to mourn, to grieve, and to honour” each life lost in the Holocaust.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who with his wife, Sara, attended the ceremony, responded that the people of Israel “pledge never to be defenseless against that hatred again.” To achieve this, he said, “Israel must always be able to defend itself.” Netanyahu thanked Trump for the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.
Trump was presented with a replica of a personal album that belonged to a teenage German Holocaust victim, Ester Goldstein. While most of the Jews who contributed photographs and handwritten messages were killed in the Holocaust, Ester’s older sister, Margot Herschenbaum, 91, survived and briefly met the president.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. In public statements, both leaders condemned the suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester, England, hours earlier that killed at least 22. The Islamic State later claimed responsibility.